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Dr Mary Barkham appointed Forestry Commissioner

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Dr Mary BarkhamHer Majesty The Queen has approved the appointment of Dr Mary Barkham as a Forestry Commissioner for England.

Dr Barkham is an Oxfordshire-based independent consultant specialising in environmental research strategy, co-ordination and implementation.

She has 14 years’ leadership experience in the UK’s Research Councils, mainly the Natural Environment Research Council. From 2002 to 2010 she led the Environment Research Funders’ Forum (ERFF), which co-ordinates environmental science in the UK.

In 2010, as Deputy Director of the Living with Environmental Change Partnership (LWEC), a collaboration of public-sector funders and users of environmental change research, Dr Barkham was involved in the creation of a UK research strategy on flooding and coastal erosion. She also led the production of a series of climate change impact report cards to inform climate change risk assessment and adaptation in the UK, and worked with the Forestry Commission and Defra on tree health, leading to the development of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative.

After post-doctoral research at the University of Reading and at Long Ashton Research Station, she spent 10 years working on fungicide development in the agri-chemical industry, specialising in downy mildew diseases.

Throughout her career she has maintained a professional and personal interest in botany and horticulture as well as environmental science.

Dr Barkham has been appointed for a term of three years from November 2014, and will also serve on the Forestry Commission's National Committee for England.

Welcoming her appointment, Sir Harry Studholme, Chair of the Board of Forestry Commissioners, said,

"I'm delighted that Mary Barkham is joining the Board of Forestry Commissioners.

“Mary brings to the Board a strong scientific and management background including, most importantly, a good understanding of tree health and climate change issues. The management of good science is fundamental to much of the work of the Forestry Commission. Her insight and experience will be invaluable in helping us to respond to the huge challenges facing our trees and forests in the 21st century.”

Dr Barkham lives in Oxfordshire and replaces Judith Webb, whose term of office expired this year.


  1. The Forestry Commission works to improve the lives of people in England and Scotland through the many benefits provided by sustainably managed woods and forests. These include sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. It does this by supporting woodland managers with grants, tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promoting the benefits of forests and forestry; and advising Ministers in the UK and Scottish Governments on forestry policy. It also manages 900,000 hectares (2.25 million acres) of public forest land in England and Scotland owned or leased by Ministers to provide the above benefits. Through its Forest Research agency, it conducts world-class scientific research and technical development relevant to forestry. and
  2. The Board of Forestry Commissioners oversees the work of the Forestry Commission on behalf of Ministers. The Commission's National Committees for England and Scotland carry out some of the functions of the Commissioners at country level.
  3. The responsibilities of the Forestry Commission for implementing Welsh Government forestry policy were assumed by a new body, Natural Resources Wales, on 1 April 2013. See
  4. Further information about the Forestry Commissioners is available at .
  5. The Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership of 22 public-sector organisations funds, carries out and uses environmental research and observations to ensure that decision makers in government, business and society have the knowledge, foresight and tools to mitigate, adapt to and benefit from environmental change. The partners include the UK research councils and government department and agencies. The private sector is represented by a Business Advisory Board.
  6. The Tree Health & Plant Biosecurity Initiative comprises a number of scientific research projects working to generate knowledge to inform the development of innovative ways of addressing pest and disease threats to trees and woodland. It is an LWEC initiative, and is co-ordinated by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

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